Best Places to Fish in Wisconsin: Eagle River Chain

The 9 lakes of the Eagle River Chain in Northern Wisconsin comprise nearly 3,600 acres, and when combined with the adjoining Three Lakes Chain, form the largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world. In recent years the Chain has been recognized as one of Wisconsin’s most productive muskie fisheries.

Several “No Wake” zones are posted throughout the chain, including the channels between all lakes and the entire stretch of the Eagle River from the Highway 45 bridge downstream to Watersmeet Lake. These zones are strictly enforced, and violators are fined. A boat hoist at the Burnt Rollways Dam on the Eagle River at Long Lake allows boaters to pass between the Three Lakes and Eagle River chains.

Interactive Lake Map

For a more detailed lake map and up to the minute fishing reports connect with the Eagle River Chain waterway page on Fishidy.

These 10 bodies of water are dominated by muskie and walleye. Both species are present in excellent numbers and size distribution. Quality perch, crappie and smallmouth are available as well, along with northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, white crappie, white bass, channel catfish, and hybrid striped bass.

Here are some tips for locating and catching fish in the Eagle River Chain:

  • During mid-summer, the Eagle River Chain can be crowded with tourists and boat traffic in the middle of the day. Fish are most often in the deep weeds at these times, especially when the sun is high in the sky. The best times to fish are early morning and evening as game fish move shallower to feed.

  • Walleye can be found on the deep weed edges, which are roughly at 8’ on the darker water lakes and 12’ on the deeper lakes. Live bait such as minnows, leeches, and crawlers are the most productive. Use half of a crawler for the best results.

  • Smallmouth bass can be found along rock piles feeding on crayfish. On calm days, Rapala crankbaits twitched over rocky areas can be very effective. Leeches are one of the best live bait choices for smallmouth as well.

  • Largemouth bass will be found along shallow, weedy shorelines, sometimes as shallow as 3’. Artificial lures including plastics and spinnerbaits are effective for these situations. Crawlers can also be used, but you may get tied up fighting with schools of hungry bluegill.

  • Northern pike can be found in the deep grass weeds. Chubs are one of the most effective live baits, though artificials such as Mepps and Johnson Silver Minnows work well too.

  • Muskie can be found throughout the Eagle River Chain, with bucktails being the choice lure. Topwater action at night can be very effective, as long as your heart can stand it.

  • Bluegill generally congregate in the shallow weeds, while crappie and perch occupy the same weeds in deeper water. Live bait such as waxworms, crawler pieces, and small minnows are most effective. Artificial lures including small jigs, spinners, and crankbaits are smart choices as well.
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